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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Cowlishaw street sewer and stormwater mains

Hydro Tech spent parts of yesterday and today working on the sewer and stormwater mains in Cowlishaw street, which should also benefit Chaddesden Lane.  They checked with a video camera and flushed them out with water from the fire hydrants.

Friday, 10 December 2010

LIM Reports and earthquake related information

Today the Council's  Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings webpage was updated with information about the information to be placed on LIM reports. All of that information is reproduced below. Please remember this information may change over time so check the Council website to make sure you have the most recent information.

NOTE: If you had a yellow or red card placed on your property the third section especially applies to you.
What information on earthquake land damage will be placed on the LIM report?   Council is bound to advise LIM applicants about special characteristics of the land. This includes effects of the earthquake, including liquefaction and subsidence. We have two sources of information - the Tonkin & Taylor reports, Land Information New Zealand report. We will reflect the results of these reports in the LIMs.
For properties undergoing land remediation works - does this go on the LIM and if so, when will it be removed?   We believe that remediation of land bestows upon that land a ‘special characteristic’ which is required to be reported on in a LIM. Where land is directly remediated (such as ground compaction methods) then this should be reported in LIMs as that ground has undergone specific specialised treatment. Where land is within a perimeter treatment zone (the large dams intended to prevent lateral spreading) then this too should be reported as the land will be unlikely to suffer lateral spreading in any further events – again a special characteristic is bestowed on that land. We believe reporting of this to be an advantage for property owners, as it informs potential buyers what works have been undertaken to counter any remarks about land damage including liquefaction (including lateral spreading) and or subsidence. These remarks would remain on the LIM permanently.
Will there be any reference to earthquake damage, house rebuilding or repairs on the LIM?   If the Council has issued a notice - such as a red or yellow placard on your property then that is a notice issued by Council and absolutely must be reported in the LIM - we are bound by legislation on that. If works or investigation takes place and the notice is removed then we should have that information supplied to us so we can also report that in the LIM - it will serve to 'set aside' the original notice.
If a new house is built then we will record the building consents and any other notices or certificates associated with that. We would not make comment on any destroyed structures that were demolished. We will also need to make comment on what we know about the land.
If I have to make only small earthquake repairs, will this go on my LIM?If the repairs did not require a building consent then it is unlikely they would be included in the LIM. But for homes where a notice had been issued, e.g. a yellow placard, then we would advise that owners forward any details of repairs be  included in the LIM.
Can council provide updated LIM report if we want to buy a house somewhere else?   Yes. Each LIM is a unique document that relates the information that Council has about property. As new information comes to hand we update the information systems that we use to manage the LIM process.

Community Policing

The December issue of Ten One - Community Edition, the New Zealand Police online magazine has a brief article on community policing in Christchurch, and especially Avonside. The article is here.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Avonside Community Picnic

There is to be an Avonside Community Picnic on Sunday the 12th of December (this Sunday) at Woodham Park (access off either Woodham Road or Lionel Street). Time is from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm. Advertised highlights are: Mullet Man, Punk the Clown, Giant Bouncy Castle, Sausage Sizzle, Games Fun + More. 

You should have received a flyer in your letter box today (or maybe tomorrow).

MPs and Hagley/Ferrymead Councillors and Community Board members have been invited to come and help but a few volunteers are needed to help with whatever needs doing on the day.

Enquiries to

Police support for quake-hit suburbs

Christchurch Police have issued a news release describing efforts to provide extra support to residents in the Avonside and Dallington areas. Some extracts from the news release are reproduced below. The full press release can be found here.
Christchurch Police are stepping up their support for residents in quake-hit Avonside with a Police bus providing a presence in the area over the coming weeks.
Christchurch Central Area Commander Derek Erasmus says a "booze bus" will be pressed into service from today [Thursday 9 December], to provide a mobile community base for Police liaison with Avonside residents.
"The bus will be a regular presence in the area for a couple of days each week," says Inspector Erasmus.
"It will give residents an opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns, as well as providing a visible reminder that we're there to support and help the local community."
Police will be delivering flyers to residents, advising when they will be in the suburb and where they will be based.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Major updates to the Council's on-line information

The CCC has made significant additions to the web page Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings.

The two areas covered by the change are Support (mainly Red Cross and other relief grants and assistance) and Roads, wastewater systems and other infrastructure.

The Support information includes eligibility for grants, the forms to fill out, how much money is available, how many grants can be applied for, and whether insurance excess payments qualify for these grants (the short answer is no).

The Roads, wastewater systems and other infrastructure section covers a wide range of topics including a few we have discussed:
  • What is the Council's schedule of plans for timing for repair and restoration of infrastructure?  The programme (including timing) is being prepared now.
  • Who fixes services / leaks in private lanes with several houses? As we pay the same rates.   Unless there is a designated Council main (water, wastewater, or stormwater) in a private lane the repair of the services is the responsibility of the owners of the properties in the lane. The Council can advise on a case by case basis if there is a public main in the lane.
  • Is there a contact person for toilet backwash etc?  Who do you call? What is the timing of information, and who do we ask?   If there has been a sewage spill onto a property, this presents a health risk and the Council will clean it up and disinfect the area. Phone the Council on (03) 941 8999
  • The streets are just patched up. When are the whole things going to be redone? Sewage, water, roads etc...   Council is appointing head contractors to plan the rebuild of the city's infrastructure. This work will be programmed to ensure completed works do not get disturbed. This means that the order of work in a street will be land remediation (where required), sewer, stormwater, water and then road corridor and landscaping.
  • When they do infrastructure will they put power wiring, poles and fibre optic cables underground?   There are no plans for undergrounding services as the poles, wires, etc are not Council assets. Companies involved with fibre-optic cables have expressed an interest in being involved during any road renewals. The Councils contractors will meet with the telephone companies and Orion to ensure co-ordination of any service installation planned by these utilities.
There is a lot more on the web page.

New sewer line

On a personal note, many of you will have seen the fine chaps from Maxwell Plumbing digging up our drive.

We share a sewer and stormwater line with Julian and Jan. After the earthquake the line struggled along for some weeks but gave up shortly after Gail and I returned home. It turns out it had been shattered in a number of places (old clay pipes) and the lateral from the sewer main to our sewer line was also damaged. Julian was able to get things organised with Maxwells and by tomorrow night we should all be re-enthroned, as it were. Then it will be good-bye to the porta-loos.

Some progress photographs:

Flood protection on the Avon

The CCC updated some City Planning Issues information on the 6th of December on the webpage Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings referred to in earlier posts.

The bit on flood protection reads as follows:
Inspections and surveys conducted since the earthquake confirm that there are no significant post-earthquake differences in the benchmark levels around the city. This means that the land has not generally risen or fallen with respect to the sea, although there have been minor rises or falls in particular areas.
The lower Avon River has more than adequate capacity to handle a major land-based storm. Flooding risks in the earthquake-affected lower Avon River are mostly related to exceptionally high tide levels which can occur as spring tides and/or storm surges. In general the earthquake has not affected the flood protection status of the river, and the risk of stopbanks overtopping is no greater than pre-earthquake. The stopbanks are strong enough to exclude tidal water. Partial blockages in Porritt Park Loop, Knights Drain and Estuary Drain do not pose a major threat to flooding and are being rectified.
Such issues are much less relevant in the Heathcote River, which does not have significant stopbanks. The area around the Heathcote River was also much less damaged by the earthquake.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The effect of the Canterbury earthquake on the property market

QV (Quotable Value) have released information on property values in Canterbury for a period that predates the earthquake and two months afterwards. The summary of their report is reproduced below. The whole of their report can be found here.
A relatively small percentage of properties in Waimakariri District, Christchurch City, and Selwyn District have been badly affected by land damage and will require significant re building work. Following some initial disruption, the remainder of properties are beginning to sell again, although the process is taking longer than usual.
In the month of the earthquake the number of sales dropped by 37% compared to pre-earthquake levels, but activity is continuing to pick up in subsequent months.
Property values were gradually declining in the months up to the earthquake. Following the earthquake this downward trend reversed with values in Christchurch City and Waimakariri District in October 3.2% higher than this previous trend. Local QV Valuers are reporting healthy interest in the property market, driven both by locals and people coming from outside the region to assist in the repair and rebuild.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Council information for spa and pool owners

The following are extracts from a CCC media release from the 6th of December:
The Christchurch City Council is stepping up its pool safety campaign in the wake of the 4 September earthquake
In addition to ensuring regular pool safety measures are in place, the Council is now also seeking to identify and inspect all earthquake-damaged pools in the city to make sure they are safe.
All swimming pool owners are being contacted directly by letter, and two inspectors will be working to inspect all damaged  pools in the city.
What the Council needs to know about pools following the earthquake
  • Is the pool still intact and operational?
  • Has the pool or pool fencing suffered damage?
  • Is the pool area safe – barricaded off/temporary fencing/empty?
Residents are also urged to advise Council if
  • their pool is empty and will remain so.
  • their pool has suffered extensive damage and is no longer useable
  • they no longer have a pool.
The full press release is here.

Earthquake Rates Relief - CCC double dipping? Part 4

Earlier I mentioned that the Council had stated the end result of the rates relief policy was that residents who had to leave their houses would have the additional rating costs included in the emergency accommodation provided by insurance companies. As there were no specifics about this, and our insurance policy seemed to exclude ordinary expenses, I asked the council about the basis for the statement.

A few days ago an e-mail arrived from the CCC explaining the basis of the statement that residents would not pay twice for rates:
" ...has passed your request for further information on to me for response.  The information that you refer to, in paragraph 32 of the report to Council on earthquake related rates relief dated 17 November, was based on discussions between Council staff and claims managers for three of the largest insurers in the Christchurch market - IAG (owner of State and NZI), Vero and Lumley.  The information provided by insurance company representatives was verified with the Chief Executive of the Insurance Council."
In essence this means that emergency accommodation provided by those insurers will include a component for rates, which will not be deducted as an ordinary expense along with electricity, phone etc. If you are with Lumley, NZI, State or Vero it looks like you can have an expectation that you won't pay your rates twice. The rest of us will need to look at this with our insurance companies.

Again, this is fine on the surface but there are significant underlying problems.
  • Where an insurance company pays the rates then the double dipping is shared across two parties. This reduces the burden on homeowners but the issue remains.
  • Once a policy holder is no longer eligible for emergency assistance from their insurance company they pick up the cost again. For some, especially many of those in Zone C areas, this may continue for two or more years.
Ultimately the Council is still double dipping no matter who pays the additional rates. Hopefully a joint approach by local MPs can influence the government to underwrite the relatively small amount the council would lose (c. $6m over three years) and relieve the pressure on all concerned.


The power to levy rates is granted to councils via the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002. This power allows council's to be flexible in how rates are set (section 3 (a)), and gives them power to remit some or all of the rates payable if considered appropriate (section 85). The discretion is wide and the choice of the amount remitted lies with the council. The bottom line is there appears to be no legal requirement for the Council to levy rates on earthquake affected properties.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

EQC on your Christmas card list?

How do you feel about adding EQC to your Christmas card list?

While we are experiencing frustration, disillusionment, anger or despair with the post-earthquake process there is a high risk of forgetting that those trying to make things right are human beings just like us.

I personally would find it a thankless task, working for EQC, and try to be grateful for those who have been prepared to do it.

So how about sending a Christmas card of peace and goodwill to EQC staff? The cost is low and it might help someone who is also stressed, maybe wondering why should they bother, and will be giving up their Christmas break to try and make a difference.

The only postal address I can find is:

The Staff of EQC
P O Box 311